Ahold Delhaize Sees Q3 Sales Beat Consensus, Raises 2020 Forecast
Ahold Delhaize NV has reported better-than-expected sales and underlying earnings for the third quarter, with a surge in online orders during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sales were up 10.1% to €17.8 billion, with underlying operating income of €813 million, up 15.9%, the company said.
Analysts in a company-compiled consensus had expected core profit of €767 million on sales of €17.5 billion.
"Our results reflected our ability to leverage our leading local digital and omni-channel platform, which generated nearly 115% net consumer online sales growth in the U.S. and nearly 50% growth in Europe in the quarter, at constant exchanges rates," CEO Frans Muller said in a statement.
In Europe, comparable sales (excluding fuel) grew by 7.5%, due largely to demand related to COVID-19, the retailer said, while online sales were up 48.6%.
Ahold raised its outlook for growth in annual earnings per share to the 'high 20% range'. In July, it had said per-share earnings growth would be slightly above 20%.
The company said it would keep dividend payout ratio at 40-50% and announced a €1 billion share buy-back for 2021, which it said was 'a testament to the strength we continue to see in our business models'.
"We continue to adapt to changes we are seeing in consumer shopping patterns and behaviour," said Muller. "Over the coming years, we will invest in our business to solidify our position as an industry-leading local omnichannel retailer and increase our share of the consumer wallet.
"We will find ways to improve our online productivity and are on track to achieve the €1.9 billion cumulative cost savings target by 2021."